Skip to content

Weeding Another Person’s Garden

When another local gardener, posted an offer of some unusual tomato seedlings on our local ecycling list, I jumped at the chance to get some. A little research only spurred my interest in growing some Principe Borghese drying tomatoes, especially when they were described with words like “heirloom” and “famous for drying“. She mentioned that she has had success with drying them in a solar oven and I thought– Bingo! That’s just what we need! The combination of free and off-the-beaten-path was very tempting.

The policy on our ecycling list is that the taker picks up and, in this case digs up, the offer herself. That meant I got see the other person’s garden as well, which is a real pleasure– as much fun as perusing another person’s bookshelves. The offered tomato seedlings had reseeded themselves and were between 4 and 6 inches tall already. While we were out in her garden, I wondered aloud how she knew what type they were, but she was quite sure. She makes a garden map every year to keep track of what is grown where.

I also took some mustard greens for our neighbor who shares her gardening space with us. Our neighbor is really likes mustard greens but hasn’t succeeded in finding sets or seeds locally. I took a couples mustard green plants, too, to try transplanting. The gardener was rather doubtful of the possible success of that enterprise, but, so far, the plants are living. I consider it an “in-process garden experiment” and one of many this year.

While we were digging up seedlings, the gardener asked me to help her weed, since we were down on our knees anyway. I tugged up a few weeds and set them sideways on top of the soil, like we do in our garden as mulch. I reached for something else– something I would consider a weed– and she said, “No, leave that. It’s —.” Okay, so I don’t remember what is was, only that she didn’t consider it a weed and didn’t want it pulled. We abandoned the weeding process and she gave me a tour of the rest of her garden. She pointed out the lambs’ quarters, purslane and amaranth as well as some more unusual pink-centered tame lambs’ quarters and giant yellow purslane. She grows lots of things that I’m not familiar with and, if they appeared in my garden, they would likely get pulled up. Really soon. Just as soon as we get to that.

Weeding another person’s garden is an interesting undertaking and one that includes some risk. One person’s weed is another person’s plant. The definition of what is a weed varies from place to place, from garden to garden. I have a few plants myself that other people would pull up as weeds. We have nettle in the yard, for example, and I welcome it here– as long as I know where it’s growing. Nettle can be used for tea and, on occasion, I’ve stir-fried young shoots for a tasty side dish for dinner. It is, admittedly, one of the wacky things we do, but it’s also a choice. Individual gardeners have different goals and designs in mind for their gardens and a uniform approach to gardening just won’t work. Our gardens show something about the values of the gardeners, which is why gardens are varied and delightful places to grow and to visit.

Posted in • Growing.

Tagged with .

2 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. AAGardenerBret says

    Great blog! Good to find another Ann Arbor gardener. How often do people post seeds/plants on the ecycling list?

  2. Jardinier says

    I’ve seen quite a few listings for seedlings and plants on the ecycling list this spring. Things like grape cuttings, Lily of the Valley, Black-eyed Susans, dill, sweet woodruff, catnip, Rose of Sharon, etc, have appeared once a week or so. It’s a random and unpredictable assortment. If you are interested in joining the list, you can sign up at

    Thanks for your comments and thanks for visiting!